Tigers seized from Valley homes start 'tiger school'


by Karen Brown

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Posted on February 12, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 9:03 PM

CAMP VERDE, Ariz. -- Two tiger cubs seized from Valley residences in January are now at home at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park and mature enough to go to school.

The 8-month-old cubs, one orange and one white, were taken from homes in Phoenix and Queen Creek after their owner posted pictures of them on social media.

The two have been at Out of Africa for about a month and are old enough to attend 'tiger school', where they are socialized with other maturing tigers.

Out of Africa Founder Dean Harrison said wild tiger cubs spend the first 16 months of their lives with their mothers, learning how to socialize with other tigers, hunt and survive.

The orphaned cubs were introduced Wednesday to surrogate parents, 470-pound Zion and 350-pound Jubilee.

The older male and female tigers will serve as teachers for the two rambunctious cubs, Journey (the orange tiger) and Gabriel (the white tiger).

At the first meeting Tuesday, the cubs were learning how much they could get away with.

The handlers only had to step in once, when the adult tigers had had enough.

The intense part of tiger school will take place over the next month, when the cubs will spend time with the older tigers each week.

If things go well, the animals will socialize without supervision, little-by-little until the cubs are fully integrated with the older tigers.

Arizona Game and Fish said the owner of the tigers has not been located. He is believed to have fled to Texas, where he got the tiger cubs. Owning tigers and other exotic animals as pets is legal in Texas.